Dravid – gentleman, thinking cricketer: Aus paper

Melbourne: An Australian newspaper paid tribute to just-retired Rahul Dravid, praising him as not only one the greatest batsmen of his generation but also a gentleman and thinker of the game.

`Sydney Morning Herald` heaped praise on Dravid, saying that his retirement Friday from international cricket was a great loss at a critical period of the game. The newspaper said that in addition to his impressive performance in Australia in the four visits Down Under, Dravid would long be endured for his honest views in his Sir Donald Bradman Oration which he delivered during the disastrous Test series tour.

Dravid was the first non-Australian to have delivered the Bradman Oration. "… Dravid, one of the great batsmen of his generation, will long endure in Australia, never mind that its insatiable fast bowlers ushered him into retirement," the newspaper said.

"The image of Dravid with arms raised and sweat dripping off him at Eden Gardens in 2001 after his 376-run partnership with VVS Laxman is burned in the memory, not just because it calls to mind Steve Waugh`s fateful decision to enforce the follow-on, but because it earned Dravid Australia`s respect," it said.

According to the newspaper, few sportsmen displayed much curiosity about lives outside their own than Dravid did. "In his (Bradman) oration, Dravid implored us to revisit the one-dimensional images of India and its cricketers. At age 39, the time is undoubtedly right for Dravid, the batsman, to call stumps. But at a critical time for cricket, the game cannot afford to lose him," it said.

Talking about one incident involving Dravid in Australia, the newspaper said, "A few days after India was humiliated in Perth this summer, Dravid stopped for a chat at the airport … While his teammates stared straight ahead, plugged into their iPods, Dravid then wandered off and made a donation to a surf lifesaving club.

"By then, his bat and pad had taken leave from one another. Despite being the leading runscorer in the world in 2011 – an astonishing achievement from the oldest batsman in the world – he was bowled six times in eight innings this summer. It was not a great farewell, but his career average in Australia was 41 across four tours, and his 233 in Adelaide in 2003, in another epic partnership with Laxman, resurrected the ghosts of Calcutta."